February 17, 2011

Critical Opinion Leaders and why we love them

Teaching Critical Thinking has set me thinking even more about the role of teaching and learning. The website www.themindfulthinker.com, created by my colleague James, has generated a lot of feedback - or should I say a few students have created a lot of content and critical feedback. Now the funny thing is - although some of what they say is at times quite irritating, (especially when I don't agree), I still love the fact that they are writing their opinions. And when they dare to voice these opinions in class - even better! This week, I found myself bouncing up and down and shouting at the class (in enthusiasm of course) - "Be 'not normal' - allow yourselves to be extraordinary! Go beyond the fear of being seen as a 'nerd' or 'too serious'!"
It feels to me, as someone who grew up in many other countries, and worked in a few other countries, that the tendency of youth in the Netherlands to have to 'fit in' and 'do normal - doe gewoon' really doesn't work when it comes to the job market. That is - if you want to be more than a cashier at the local supermarket. I have found that original thought is greatly appreciated. An opinion  - an ability to look at life in a critical/analytical manner is needed.
So, what I'm saying is this - will the silent majority please speak up?

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

 Buddha quotes (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

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